State Stays Methyl Bromide Fumigation

State pesticide regulators have imposed an indefinite stay on plans to fumigate an east Ventura strawberry field with methyl bromide.

Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner Earl McPhail had denied the request of 30 people living near Montalvo Ranch’s 76-acre strawberry field to revoke the company’s permit.

The residents, who have formed a group called Community and Children’s Advocates Against Pesticide Poisoning, say they suffered headaches, nausea, dizziness and other symptoms of methyl bromide poisoning last summer.

Acting on behalf of the citizens group, the Environmental Defense Center filed an appeal with the state Department of Pesticide Regulation.

Department Director James W. Wells has stayed the county-issued permit until further notice, spokeswoman Veda Federighi said Friday.


Federighi said agency representatives will schedule a hearing in the area and give residents seven days’ notice.

The appeals process is rarely used, she said. In May, residents in Monterey County appealed a county-issued permit. The appeal led to a sixfold increase in the buffer zone between the edge of a field and adjacent homes and curtailed the rate at which the toxic fumigant could be applied.

The east Ventura appeal, however, requests that the permit be revoked. Residents there do not believe methyl bromide can be safely applied to the field, no matter what the conditions.